ORIE Financial Engineering students form a club to discuss issues and compete internationally
In what Evgeny Yakimenko, Vice President of the club, called “the single most valuable thing I’ve done at Cornell,” ORIE Financial Engineering concentrators established a club to learn about issues in finance and participate in trading competitions. They enlisted OR Graduate Field member Robert Jarrow, Ronald P. & Susan E. Lynch Professor of Investment Management in the Johnson Graduate School of Management, as advisor.
The club, which is primarily for graduate students but includes some undergraduate members, meets weekly to analyze case studies in financial engineering, discuss the pros and cons of various historical trading strategies and famous hedge fund trades, and to compare notes on interview experiences.
“I applaud our students for taking the initiative and starting the club. I am very excited to be working with them to ensure continuity and to enlist new club members in the fall,” said Victoria Averbukh, Director of Cornell Financial Engineering Manhattan (CFEM).
The club fielded teams at the Traders@MIT competition in Cambridge, MA, the Rotman International Trading Competition at the University of Toronto, and the online Group Training Challenge organized by CME Group, which runs exchanges for the trading of futures and options.
“The competitions provide a dimension of applying our knowledge in finance we don’t see anywhere else,” said Yakimenko, “ they’re invaluable in discussing during interviews, and are generally a lot of fun.” “The club members were highly motivated and they worked very hard in preparing for each competition,” said Professor Jarrow.
Yakimenko and Club President Joseph Day served as coaches to the two pairs of Cornellians who competed in Traders@MIT, which is restricted to undergraduates. Day noted that “participating in competitions helps put the program on the map. Other high ranking schools were there, and they keep passing their approaches along to successive classes, which ORIE’s club will now do as well.”
Day says that “developing and implementing trading strategies with each other and with Robert Jarrow has been extremely useful.” “Making sure we really understand what we are doing was very good for focusing all of our classroom knowledge into a useful purpose,” he said. “Simply reading the newspaper once a day is no substitute for when you actually have several trades on and really care about what is happening in the market throughout the day.”
“They learned a great deal about how to apply models in practice from the competitions” said Professor Jarrow. “They were a pleasure to advise.”
“Participating in trading competitions and other club activities not only helps these students differentiate themselves from the competition when looking for employment, but also helps them gain hands-on knowledge about financial markets,” said Averbukh.
Club co-founder Benjamin Pickett confirmed that “the club filled a critical gap, connecting the classroom learning with concrete experiences, thereby solidifying my understanding of the curriculum while providing a springboard for interview season. To be successful in financial services, I need to be able to not just think about finance, but also talk about finance in an effective way – the club provided a forum for both.”
Member Kévin Soulard said “the club is a place of exchange where each member, regardless of their levels of expertise, has some experience or thoughts to share. Not only is it interesting from a learning perspective, but it is also convivial. I had a great time meeting with people who shared my interest in finance.”
The club is funded in large part by the School of ORIE, but club members have worked to raise funding from other Cornell sources to help finance travel to competitions such as those in Cambridge and Toronto. The co-founders, who will complete their degree work with projects at Cornell Financial Engineering Manhattan in the fall, hope to encourage the incoming class of financial engineering students to get involved with the club.
Yakimenko received his Bachelor of Science degree from Stony Brook University, graduating with majors in applied mathematics and statistics, physics, and economics. He was involved in academic research within Stony Brook’s physics department, economics department, and Quantitative Finance Group, as well as at Brookhaven National Laboratory. This summer he will work as an intern at BNY Mellon, where he will be working with foreign exchange and interest rate derivatives before completing his M.Eng. degree with a semester at CFEM.
Day came to Cornell from the University of Graz in Austria, where he earned a Ph.D. in theoretical physics. For his Ph.D. thesis, he designed and implemented comparative models based on string theory and quark models to understand phenomena related to the strong nuclear force, and has given talks on this subject at various international conferences. His undergraduate degree, also in physics, is from the University of California Santa Barbara. He will be a summer intern in trading at BNP Paribas, and then spend his final M.Eng. semester at CFEM.
Pickett is a mechanical engineering graduate of the University of California Davis. While at UCD, he worked as a research assistant, conducting independent research in a biomedical engineering laboratory, where he became comfortable analyzing large data-sets using MATLAB. He will be a summer intern in the Quantitative Advisory Service at EY (formerly Ernst and Young) before completing his M.Eng. at CFEM.
Soulard, shown in the image above, is a graduate of the prestigious French engineering school Mines Nancy. Although he has pursued the Applied Operations Research concentration and has experience in logistics, he participated in the Rotman competition. He will join the New York City office of PriceWaterhouseCoopers as an Assurance Associate.